In the preceding post in this series I defined the Ennis Gambit thus:

« Ennis manages to paint a picture of the transcendent philosophers in the very terms that the OOOxians use to describe themselves »

The key concept there was the accusation against the post-Kantians of taking a perverse pleasure in chasing uncatchable noumenal ghosts which a simple citation from THE THIRD TABLE showed to be a very close description of Graham Harman’s position as he describes it in virtually the same words:

“We can only be hunters of objects, and must even be non-lethal hunters since objects can never be caught. The world is filled primarily … with ghostly objects withdrawing from all human and inhuman access” (THE THIRD TABLE, p12).

Ennis virtually confirms this reading, but with attenuating qualifications, when he says:

« if this attitude is explicit for continental thinkers might it not simply be currently implicit within speculative realism ».

My quotation shows that at least for Harman this attitude of perverse enjoyment in chasing noumenal ghosts is quite explicit, and he even baptises it with the name of « erotic model », so the « logic of jouissance » is explicitly endorsed.

SELF-CRITICISM: After seeing myself discussed as some crazy guy who abominably misread Ennis’s post, I no longer have the heart to continue this series to the end. To sum up the rational core of what I have been saying:

1) OOO would be an easy target for a Laruellian critique, but Ennis does not take this path, though he indicates his intention to do so in the future. I look forward to such a critique as I consider that Deleuze and Feyerabend give us the material for a non-laruellian non-philosophical critique. I have been pursuing my own version of non-philosophy for some time now and am curious to see what people can do with Laruelle. I think that Laruelle’s ANTI-BADIOU is a truly brilliant book, far superior to Badiou’s ANTI-DELEUZE. In this book Laruelle pulls no punches, and I find myself in harmony with that sort of critique.

2) I think that Harman’s ontology is one of transcendence, and that Bryant’s insofar as it concords with Harman’s meta-categories is one of transcendence too, even if he fills in these meta-categories with immanent categoreal content. Laruelle, once again, is quite good on these mixes of transcendence nad immanence that give themselves out as philosophies of immanence. My point of view is, however, purely Feyerabendian: these ontologies are far too constraining on matters that only empirical, though not necessarily scientific, research can decide. In this light Bryant’s post festum Lacanian lessons on immanence seem unjustified in content and comic in form (Lacan’s graph of sexuation as a lesson in immanence).

3) I am appalled by the impoverished account of the history of philosophy that Meillassoux promotes via his bogus concept of « correlationism ». Harman repeats his illiterate idea that epistemology is all about access without feeling the need to cite one major, or even minor, epistemologist. Bryant seems to enrich this discussion by talking about lots more continental figures. But he seems to think that Bhaskar is an important epistemologist, and he glibly proposes Lacan as a thinker of immanence while elaborating a « Deleuzian » machinic ontology. So he is a very unreliable narrator indeed.

4) That’s the one I’m doing now

5) I was going to have lots of fun with the notion of self-withdrawn objects and with the surprising idea that ontotheology relies on the idea of a transcendent non-self-withdrawn entity. This is ludicrous. Un-self-withdrawnness is in no way a necessary condition of transcendence. This is a surreptitious way of redefining the debate on ontotheology so as to make it true by definition that only OOO is an ontology of immanence.

So there you are, I managed to reconstruct what I wanted to say in its grand lines without offending Paul Ennis personally, nor even offending his sense of philosophical style. But I had less fun and feel that something is missing.

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  1. i finally disagree with something in this passionate and lucid (and often hilarious) series of trenchant critiques: your own self-criticism! don’t let the haters get to you. we need this and, at some point in the speculative future, the young OOOxians will read more widely in philosophy, and then they’ll need guideposts like this. some of them.

    Harman is hilarious (in a whole different way). « The world is filled primarily … with ghostly objects withdrawing from all human and inhuman access »: but apparently not from Harman himself. He is a super-hero after all, with the mutant super-power to access the noumena denied to us homo sapiens… to me, my x-men


  2. terenceblake dit :

    Thanks for your encouragement, I felt pretty depressed when i saw Ennis’s reaction as he was not my main target, so I toned it all down into normal (for me!) philosophical prose. Deleuze says that the humour and the politics are the non-philosophical (or schizoanalytical) keys to the meaning of a text (and I would add that the humour and the politics are often indiscernably intermingled) but I have no desire to be taken for a nasty conceptless clown.
    As to Harman he is Magneto, erotically attracting to him the objects that would like to stay withdrawn. The ILLUMINATUS TRILOGY talked about the plot to « immanentise the eschaton » and provoke the apocalypse. Harman wishes to immanentise the noumenon, but he does not succeed despite Lacan’s diagram of power.


  3. Paul J. Ennis dit :

    I should note I do not think you are crazy! Just very much not used to being discussed on blogs or anything like this. I’m happy to take it on the chin and hope the rewrite did not take too much life out of the post. I will try fit the Harry Potter line into a talk somewhere down the line.


  4. Paul J. Ennis dit :

    Also regarding self-criticism the issue of style is interesting. I very much am a non-confrontational type and know that those who do like more punchiness get frustrated when they feel I am pulling punches. As we discussed on twitter I am usually not pulling punches. It’s not my style to be overly critical. What I tend to enjoy – and these days I feel less and less involved in what is at stake in most philosophy debates – is to see what survives or remains when one reads a philosopher and then put it to use elsewhere. I realise this kind of approach is frustrating but it very much follows my own emerging non-philosophy of focusing on philosophies as materials (and more and more for me this is to the end of human dignity).


  5. terenceblake dit :

    No hard feelings then. If I am hitting back at someone I usually aim a little lower than the chin, but I consider karate as a form of interpersonal yoga, so I tell myself with a beatific smile that I am not trying to hurt but only helping to open a recalcitrant chakra (please note that this joke too is conceptual, and can best be understood is you know or look on a chart at where the chakras are situated).
    However, I would urge you not to rely on your memories of your response but to consider it as a withdrawn object and to reread the first third with my posts in mind, and you may be surprised to see it through different eyes.


  6. terenceblake dit :

    I came to France because I felt that I was bogged down in a critical and self-defensive attitude, I was sick of all that negativity and I wanted to move to a positive attitude. I well remember a dream where I was wandering thirsty in a desert and people were discussing Bhaskar (I kid you not!) and I saw a vision of Paris (which I had already visited for 6 months and loved) on the horizon with a voice proclaiming « Paris, city of pure difference ». So I migrated and was immersed in such positivity (over 7 years) as is more than sufficient for a lifetime. But I will not be intimidated, or ignored into abandonment, by pretentious fools and hypocrites, and I will speak my mind as I see fit, having paid the price for that.


  7. Chip dit :

    « Don’t let the haters get to you. we need this and, at some point in the speculative future, the young OOOxians will read more widely in philosophy, and then they’ll need guideposts like this. some of them. »

    Ditto. Please keep up your posts and critiques of the OOO-ers. Alot of us out here that appreciate your posts.

    Keep up the great work.



  8. Bill Benzon dit :

    Ah, it’s about the chakras, eh? I never managed to learn the names or specific attributes, but I do think I get the basic principle. I mostly think of chakras when judging musical performance: How low did they go? It seems to me that a lot of Continental bodyism/materialism is pretty weak stuff, maybe getting roughly to the throat area, but no lower.


  9. terenceblake dit :

    I was talking about « symbolic » karate kicks and punches in self-defence. As this is a family blog I will not answer your question directly concerning how low they go, except to say: lower than the throat.


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